Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An unfamiliar Texas reality, 2021

Regular readers will recall my occasional writing on subsidies for electric vehicles.  The federal government subsidized the purchase of EVs to the tune of $7500.00.  This was supposed to encourage Joe Average American to abandon his evil pickup truck and snap up a virtuous but pricey Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, or perhaps a very pricey and unreliable Tesla.  Yeah.  As I also occasionally wrote, it was the top 7% of Americans in income that bought them as a third, fourth or fifth car, a sort of rolling, greenie virtue signaling.  They could afford it because they had all the normally powered, reliable vehicles they needed. They didn’t have to rely on an EV.  Circa 2021, that calculus has changed little, if at all.

Government is a loser at picking winners and losers.  Actually, it’s the taxpayer that ends up losing, but you get the point.  EVs have never caught on, yet the Harris President-in-Waiting Administration is determined to force them down everyone’s throat, just as they are determined to force windmills and solar panels down everyone’s throat, science and reality be damned.  Like EVs, wind and solar energy exist only because they are heavily subsidized by government.  Absent those incentives, they can’t possibly compete with reliable, carbon-based energy, so reliable, carbon-based energy must go!  Leftist moralizing and virtue must prevail, not reality.

More Texas reality…

And then the great February freeze of 2021 struck Texas, reminding us of the great Climate Change scam.  The scam began decades ago with Global Cooling, which was going to kill us all by a variety of dates certain, which all came and went leaving us non-popsicles.

When that didn’t work, the scam was relabeled Global Warming.  The One, Barack Obama, prophetically told us his election was the moment the seas began to recede and the planet began to heal.  Dates certain for the world’s demise were set, came and went, the seas didn’t recede, the planet didn’t heal and life went on.  Worst of all, the world did not, to the embarrassment and rage of climate cultists, warm.

So we were treated to “Climate Change,” which is meaningless.  Of course the climate changes.  It has changed since the world was created, and far more fundamentally than any possible human causation.  It’s rather like screaming about Light Change, and arguing if we do not do away with darkness, we’re all doomed by, say, 2030, which coincidentally, is how long John Kerry tells us we have left.

Only bankrupting the nation fighting “Climate Change” can save the human race, and Kerry assures us this time it’s serious.  No more fooling around America, so empty your pockets and abandon your warm, cold, clean water and indoor plumbing privilege!  Of course, we can no more change the climate than we can change the dark.  We can barely, and very much imperfectly, forecast the weather a day or two in advance.  Every date certain so far set for our obliteration by Climate Change has come and gone and we, annoyingly—for climate alarmists–continue to exist.

On to Texas, where Bryan Preston at PJ Media provides a quick and accurate account of what happened:

A quick and incomplete mental sketch of how all this happened might go something like this (investigations will find out a whole lot more). The wind turbines out west froze Friday. Demand statewide surged as every county got blasted, starting Friday to Saturday. As demand surged, wind — which usually provides between 25% to 42% of Texas power but can drop to roughly 10% in the winter — dropped all the way to about 2% of its normal output Monday night and Tuesday morning. Natural gas compensated, but then its pipelines froze, and even the oil wells froze up. Production in the Permian went off a cliff, causing havoc in the market energy prices. Ice was also snapping powerlines in untold numbers of places. Crews have been hampered even getting to them due to the widespread ice. The state had no respite, no region where demand for power was not surging so it could balance the grid, which it usually does have. For instance, in most circumstances, it could get very cold in the Panhandle but still be 70 from Waco south. That’s a huge area, larger than many whole states, over which most people won’t be using a lot of power, so power could be surged to the cold area, which is also larger than many whole states, and which is not as heavily populated. But this week, the entire state — which is the size of Germany — froze. And millions have already been hitting power harder than usual by working from home thanks to the pandemic. Then we all, 29 million of us thanks to population growth that none of our infrastructure has been able to keep up with (thanks, California!), needed a lot of heat just to make our homes liveable and keep pipes from bursting and destroying everything. Did I mention that most Texas homes are engineered for extreme summer heat, not arctic winters? And, that we have millions who’ve never dealt with cold and ice like this before, either because they’re new to the state or because this is a historic storm?

Having recently lived in North Texas for two decades, Mrs. Manor and I had a grand time when, every year or two, a Spring ice storm hit.  It would rain, then freeze, and the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex was paralyzed for several days at a time.  We, both raised in the North, simply went about our business, driving wherever we needed to go without difficulty, but for everyone else it was horrific.  Texas homes are not designed or insulated for extended freezing temperatures, and frozen water lines under kitchen sinks—at the least—were common in those mercifully short bursts of cold weather.  We now know, Texas hasn’t faced a cold snap like this since 1949—72 years.

In deep trouble over this disaster is ERCOT, the ironically named Energy Reliability Council Of Texas.  Texans discovered the people involved were handsomely compensated, appointed to the Council by each other, many had no experience in energy management, and didn’t live in Texas!  Not exactly a Texas level of governmental accountability.  This has been partially self corrected by the more or less immediate resignations of five of them, including those that lived outside Texas, and the Lege, as Texans tend to call it when they’re not swearing, is riled up.

I received this via e-mail from a reliable source, so I believe it, absent any evidence I’ve been able to find to the contrary, accurate:

From Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian:

WINTER STORM:

*This week, our grid failed us when temperatures reached historic lows and people needed electricity and heat the most.

*There were almost 4.5 million customers without power during the peak of the outage on February 16th. As of today, there are still close to 3 million Texans without power.

*The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, manages about 90% of the state’s power for 26 million customers.

*ERCOT is overseen by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature.

*ERCOT’s recently elected chair and vice chair for the board of directors do not live in Texas and live in Michigan and California respectively.

*ERCOT said there were 45,000 megawatts offline. Of that, 15,000 megawatts were wind and 30,000 were gas and coal.

*On the morning of February 14th, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness warned: ‘We are experiencing record- breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas. At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units.’

*It is important to note that every natural gas plant online at the start of this crisis stayed online.

*While there have been some issues with natural gas production during this storm, much of that has to do with ERCOT cutting off power to well sites in West Texas. ERCOT assumed the state would have 67GW from thermal sources (gas & coal), but ended up only being able to get 43GW online.

*Many, including myself, have warned for years about the dangers of relying too heavily on unreliable, intermittent forms of electric generation like wind and solar to meet the energy needs for thirty-million Texans.

*This couldn’t have happened a decade ago when “coal-fired plants generated nearly 37 percent of the state’s electricity while wind provided about 6 percent. Since then, three Texas coal-fired plants have closed… In the same period, our energy consumption rose by 20 percent.”

*ERCOT was notified over a decade ago that Texas power plants had failed to adequately weatherize facilities to protect against cold weather. A federal report that summer recommended steps including installing heating elements around pipes and increasing the amount of reserve power available before storms.

*Instead of spending our resources making our grid more resilient, policy and spending has focused spending on mandating or subsidizing as much wind and solar as possible.

*The takeaway from this storm should not be the failure of fossil fuels, but the failure of leadership at ERCOT and the dangers of relying on intermittent, unreliable forms of energy like wind for a quarter of our energy needs.

*It shows as clear as day that the goal of 100% renewables by 2035 is a pipe dream that will increase suffering and harm Texas families.

*Had Texas been using 100% renewables, we would have had 100% blackouts.

No kidding.  Doing away with inexpensive, reliable power sources would, unlike Climate Change, actually kill millions, and not just in Texas.  The problems Texans experienced for about a week are months-long reality in much of the middle and northern United States.  Little known is wind turbines have grave limitations.  Ice buildup on their blades not only requires shut downs, but sends huge chunks of ice flying considerable distances.  

When cold conditions predominate, they become consumers of energy rather than producers as heating elements are necessary to prevent destruction of their motors and electronics.  Solar Panels only work when the sun is shining, and when they’re not covered with rain, snow and ice.

There has been substantial idiocy, beyond the inevitable from AOC, in response to the Texas debacle.  NBC talking head Chuck Todd saw a silver lining around the dark cloud:  

After taking note of how over two dozen have died in Texas and nearby states with millions stranded in the cold without electricity and heat, he decided to shoot his shot: ‘Morgan, about the only — the only upside here is I assume the cold weather motivates people to wear a mask, because it’s one extra layer on your face. But how bad is it, Morgan?’

Well Chuck, considering people have died and the economic damage, it’s rather bad, you heartless cretin.  Such is the nature of our moral and intellectual betters.

CNBC wrote a breathless story about how some Texans used the generator feature of some Ford F-150 hybrid pickup trucks to power a few things in their home.  Like every greenie, they appear to have no idea from where electricity comes, or of its limitations.  This feature was designed for the pickup owner who needs an AC source for a few power tools on a jobsite or something like that, not to power an entire home.  In order to produce enough electricity to run a few appliances—not power an entire single family home—those Ford owners had to continuously run the engines of their trucks—gas engines.  In other words, they used fossil fueled generators, which many Americans have and use, to produce a small amount of electricity.  Theirs just happened to be on four wheels.  And what happens when the electricity remains out for too long—another week, say–and there is no power for gas pumps?  From where does the electricity come then?  Just another brilliant new energy innovation neither new nor brilliant.

Now comes the reckoning.  Does Texas spend billions to winterize their power plants and other infrastructure for a storm that may occur once a century?  Does it continue down the path of replacing cheap and reliable power sources with “renewable, clean” energy—solar and wind—which would inevitably produce even worse results in another storm like that of 2021?  Or does Texas, which has been mostly doing things right for a long time, increase the proportion and strength of its nuclear, coal and natural gas plants, rather than closing them down, as it has been doing?  The only power sources that were sufficiently reliable during the storm were coal first, then nuclear, which had one of its four reactors go offline.  Natural gas plants froze, and wind and solar were a disaster.

Texas does provide many lessons for the rest of the country.  None of them validate the claims of climate cultists.  Solar and wind are expensive, unreliable, and in bad weather, will fail.  If the wind is too strong, wind turbines have to shut down to avoid tearing themselves apart.  When they fail, if every state does not have sufficient reserves of inexpensive, reliable power, they’ll be no better off than Texas was for a week, and in much of America, much, much worse.  A lack of heat, water and sanitation in winter kills no less than a lack of cooling, water and sanitation in summer.  It is reliable and inexpensive power that allows us to live in much of the United States and the rest of the world.  Greenies like John Kerry know they’ll always have what they need.  The rest of us have to be willing sacrifices to their murderous climate gods.

Texas now gets to decide: does it build the infrastructure necessary to support its rapidly growing population, much of which is fleeing insane governments like those of Illinois, New York and California, or does it take the path of California, and fail to build the transportation, power and water infrastructure necessary?  If the temporary Biden Administration gets its way, it will be the latter, and in rushing to destroy the economy to fuel the Climate Change scam, they’ll kill millions.

I’m betting on Texas, but we’re going to find out very soon whether any of us can bet on the United States continuing as a united nation.  Texas may just be one more tipping point between reality/union and D/S/C policy/national survival.